The last few weeks have been pretty hard. I have been working all the time and I can feel a deepening sense of isolation. The weather has finally begun to get cold, although it is still quite nice by Canadian standards.
Last weekend, myself and a few friends decided to go to Kyoto to see the autumn leaves. This is a traditional thing to do in the autumn and there's a special term for it in Japanese (kooyoo-mi, 紅葉見, something like 'viewing the crimson leaves').
The leaves were indeed beautiful, but despite the impression of these pictures the place was mobbed with people and it was actually pretty annoying at times.
There was one incident as we were passing through this bamboo grove that to my mind was particularly odd. There was a train crossing about halfway along the path through this grove and, because of the number of people, we had to wait for multiple trains to go by before we could get through the crossing.
Somehow, the passing of these trains was source of great amusement - people lined up along the railway to take pictures, everyone around me was talking about the trains. And this in a country that's virtually plagued with trains. These people ride trains every single day of their lives, everywhere they look they see train tracks and stations, but on that day, in that place, for reasons that I could not understand, it was like they were seeing trains for the very first time.
That evening we wandered around the old neighborhoods of Kyoto, which are really quite pretty, especially at night. While we were walking, we happened to see a geisha, or maiko, being delivered by her driver to an appointment. This was regarded as an extremely propitious event by my Japanese friends, because of the rarity of sighting a geisha at work.
Apparently, a geisha sighting is not only fortunate in and of itself but also bestows luck on those who have made the sighting for some unspecified period of time.